“Do Not Sit, Go”
Acts 10:34-43 “Do Not Sit. Go!” 4-17-22
[Prayer] “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O’Lord my rock and redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
My oldest, Evan, is playing both soccer and flag football this season. Evan’s flag football coach does this thing where when he tells the boys to do something he says, “That means run. Don’t walk. Don’t dawdle. Run.” That’s the feeling I get when I read this morning’s passage. There is a definite feeling of a call to action. It’s like in the book of Mark where he writes the word immediately 41 times. This passage has a feeling of immediacy, and the push comes from the authority of God.
The Apostle Peter has been hiding out. Peter, like many of the followers of the way of Jesus Christ, have been pushed out of the city of Jerusalem by the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers. Peter has been hiding in the home of a tanner. While at the home of the tanner Peter is told by God to go to the home of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius. These are Gentiles. These are people like you and me. They are not Jews. The home Peter is sent to is not filled with people who are under the Law of Moses. No promise has been made to these people by God. God has offered no salvation to these people from sin and death. There is not hope for them from God. They are not a part of God’s family. They might as well be the Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites and all of the other “ites” God tells the Children of Israel to wipe out when they laid claim to the Promised Land. However, God tells Peter to go anyway.
Upon arriving at the home Peter is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Please understand, Peter is not speaking because Peter had a crazy idea. God is speaking through Peter. “Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35). Then Peter shares the Gospel with these Gentiles. Peter explains that Jesus is the Lord of All. God anointed Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and now it is that same Holy Spirit who testifies to the truth of Jesus Christ through Peter. Jesus, the son of God, and rightful King above all kings went around Judea teaching, and preaching, and healing, and performing miracles. Jesus rescued those who were oppressed by the devil. Then Peter adds all of His disciples saw him do it. Peter isn’t just telling fairy tales. Peter is not making up stories. According to Jewish law for a thing to be understood as true there must be testimony by two or more witnesses (Deut 19:15). There are a lot of people who saw Jesus do these things. Peter explains they put Jesus to death by hanging him on a tree. As Romans they would have understood that as crucifixion. The people of Cornelius’ home were already God fearing so they may have heard that in Deuteronomy 21:22-23 being hung on a tree makes someone unclean. That would have made Jesus untouchable and not allowed to be in the presence of God or God’s people. However, no one is too far for God to bring them home. On the third day God raised Jesus from the dead. Hear the good news my brothers and sisters. It does not matter what you have done or how far you have run from God. God loves you, and God can bring you home.
Peter goes on to say that Jesus did not appear to everyone after He was raised from the dead. Jesus appeared to those who are witnesses. Jesus then, “commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be the judge of the living and the dead” (v42). My sisters and brothers there is immediacy in this passage. This is not news we need to sit with and think about. This is not news we need to ignore like we would a story we’ve heard a hundred times before. This story is the starter's pistol. The news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the shot which is supposed to wake us from our comfortable pews and send us out the doors and into the community. We are to run and not walk. We are to look for those who either have not heard or have not believed the Gospel and share with them how good it is to be loved by God.
Hear the good news again. Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. Jesus does not wait for us to be perfect. Jesus does not wait for it to be convenient. Jesus does not want it to be hard. The truth is there are a lot of people outside of those doors and inside of these walls who are facing very real struggles. They are facing financial challenges, challenges in their relationships and in their marriages. There are people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. There are those who continually fight with whether or not they are worthy to be loved by God, or anybody else for that matter. There are children who are abused; verbally, physically and emotionally. Some have survived to become grown people with hatred and self loathing that is too easily turned on other people. And some just want to feel important or safe so they scramble for wealth and power ignoring those they step upon or walk over. The good news is it does not matter what you have done or whom you have hurt, God still loves you. God still loves you. God loves you so much God sent God’s only son to die on the cross for you.
It seems like a simple statement. God loves you so God sent Jesus to die for you. Please, please consider it was not an easy die in your sleep, kind of death. Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was arrested. Jesus was beaten. Jesus was caned. Jesus was whipped and scourged. A tattered wrag of a centurian’s cloak was thrown over Jesus’ body, and a cruel crown of thorns was pushed down onto Jesus’ bleeding head. Jesus was led before the crowds and publicly exposed - they made him stand there bleeding and naked before the crowd. And still Jesus’ own people shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” We still shout, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” We are to blame for Jesus’ death. Everyone of us is to blame for Jesus’ death, and yet Jesus died for us anyway. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners.
Not much has changed today. Too many still prefer the darkness to the light. Too many people still pretend they are better than others because they think they are better “rule followers.” Too many think they shouldn’t go to church because they are not good enough. Here’s the thing that levels the playing field. No one is better than anyone else in the eyes of God. Amen? Amen. No one is better than anyone else. Amen? Amen. No one is worse than anyone else. Amen? Amen. We are all sinners. Amen? Amen. We all need grace. Amen? Amen. John 3:16-17 says,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
The Apostle Peter echoes that statement when he says,
“Truly I understand God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34).
My sisters and brothers this is the good news the world and our community needs to hear. This is the message we have been commanded to share. It does not matter what you’ve done wrong. It does not matter how far you’ve run from God. It does not matter how much you have messed up. You are a sinner. We are all sinners. And God loves you. Amen?! Amen!! God loves you and God sent God’s Son, Jesus Christ to die for you. Amen?! Amen!! Jesus died for you and for me, and guess what. Jesus died for everyone - E V E R Y O N E outside those doors. Jesus died for the people you like. Jesus died for the people you hate. Jesus died for the people who get on your last nerve. Jesus died for us all. Our job is to tell people Jesus died for them because Jesus loves them. Our job is to tell people that while their sins may be as red as crimson through the blood of Jesus Christ their lives can become as white as snow. Our job is to show gratitude to our savior by sharing the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for us. So no. There is no excuse for being comfortable in our worship. Worship is not about us anyway. We should not be comfortable in the way we “do” church. We should not be comfortable sitting in our pews. The command from Jesus is to “Go.” Go to everyone - even the people you do not like. This is not an option. This is a command. This is the command from God in Matthew 28:17-19. Do not sit. Go! Do not sit around talking about it. Show your gratitude for what Jesus has done for you, by getting up off of your pews, going out those doors and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with someone new.
In the name of Jesus Christ,